Sean,

It hardly seems possible that our experiences are so very similar. I have felt isolated, freakish, invalid, inauthentic. Much less so in having read your post.

I have mixed feeling about memory recovery. I suspect that full memory recovery would be, as you say, regrettable.

I had concious knowlege of much of the physical abuse and emotional abuse and neglect a long time ago (though focused treatment of it did not begin until a couple of years ago).

It was perhaps 5 or 6 years ago that I had my first recovered memory of sexual abuse. It happened when I was an infant and the perp was my mother.

I had for years responded to triggers that were as simple as my partner talking about his mother and how though she was alcoholic, she always expressed unconditional love for her children. He had done a dozen or so years of work in therapy and Al-Anon so had a healthy understanding of what effect his parents' alcoholism had had on the family and had more or less made his peace with it.

My reactions to the triggers were frightening. I was anxious, fearful, angry and very sad. I would emotionally retreat and sob for an hour or more at a time.

I see now that I was in effect a wordless, frightened and hurting child again.

We were on a two hour drive to see his mother. My episode had started before we left town and my withdrawal and crying continued for almost the entire trip. My partner's anxiousness though perfectly understandable looking back, at the time only worsened what I was going through.

We stopped for gas. I sat alone in the car and I was so desperate for release that I think I prayed to God for it. It was like I was asking my mind for an answer, an explanation for what was happening to me.

In that moment I had a clear impression of being an infant and being bathed by my mother at the kitchen sink. I recalled that she had hurt my genitals, either slapped or squeezed them. I recalled her sudden anger and rage and the sensation of the pain.

Immediately, my panic and sobbing stopped. I was astounded. It was my first experience with a recovered memory and it had an extraordinary impact.

I shared the experience with a close friend (though not with my partner) but did not talk about it again until I hooked up with a therapist a couple of years ago who recognized the symptoms of childhood abuse in me and began treating me for them.

That has led to other bits of recovered memory but not a lot of details. It is interesting I think that in the images I do recall the faces are blocked out or erased.

Brett

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Sometimes, things just won't work the way we want them to.